PAUL SMITH: A Fishing-Specific Kayak and Seat to Keep Your Trout Fishing Butt Comfortable

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SPANIARD’S BAY, NL — You may remember that there are two columns, I mentioned a new kayak I ordered. As far as I know, it’s still expected to arrive here on The Rock in May.

I hope delivery before May 15th because it is the opening day of summer trout fishing.

The brook trout fishery is closed from April 15th to May 15th and I am adamant that this regulation needs to be changed. But that’s a reproach for another time.

We’re missing way too much spring trout fishing – the best time of year – and I don’t think there’s any legitimate justification for a closure. At the very least, I think that’s true in my part of the country. There are more and more brook trout bigger than when I was a kid. And I think the on-ice safety argument is a textbook case of smoke and mirrors.

It’s another buddy, Kevin, with a largemouth bass. Note the equipment capacity of the kayak. Photo contributed – Contributed

Back to the trout and kayak business. Why a kayak, because there are certainly plenty of other options for sailing afloat? I think I may have tried them all my fishing life.

My very first dedicated trout boat was a 12 foot wooden flat bottom boat. I built it myself out of plywood when I was 13. I named it the SS Mono, after the many tubes of Mono brand sealant I used to keep it afloat.

Her maiden voyage was a sea trout hunt in the port of Spaniard’s Bay. I didn’t catch any, despite them jumping all the way down Main Beach between Spaniard’s Bay and Bay Roberts.

A few days later I lucked out near the old Avalon store.

If you know where that is, you’re pushing 60 for sure.

My brother-in-law from Sudbury bought a 12 foot aluminum boat and motor. I spent a few summers there and boat-fished extensively for bass, pike, and northern pike.

It was fun and I was getting into the angling world.

Then I discovered canoeing. My brother-in-law, Mario, borrowed one from a friend for a trip to a remote lake.

I fell in love. Paddling was my thing. Engines roar and hit rocks and you can’t see where you’re going in a rowboat.

I trained properly on the canoe strokes and a whole new world of trout and adventure opened up for me. I bought my own canoe and never looked back.

There is no doubt that one can definitely up their trout fishing game by using a canoe.

In the meantime, I also dabbled in the world of inflatable structures. For a while I fished a little with a pontoon boat, but the experience wasn’t very emotional. I replaced it with a kick float tube and I like it. I still use it from time to time. It’s the ultimate in stealth, I think, given its ultra-low profile.

It's Barry (Bear) Grady, from that tackle shop in Florida, with a spotted sea trout.  Photo contributed - Contributed
It’s Barry (Bear) Grady, from that tackle shop in Florida, with a spotted sea trout. Photo contributed – Contributed

Then I discovered kayaking. It’s perfect for me, even better than a canoe.

I say this subjectively, of course.

On My Kayaking Life: About 15 years ago, I walked into a fishing tackle store on Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach, Florida. A scruffy guy a little older than me was filling a reel behind the counter.

He looked very suspicious.

“Hello,” he said, reaching out and shaking my hand firmly. This guy had worked with his hands, a carpenter by trade that I learned later.

He introduced himself as Bear. It turned out to be Barry Grady, a Florida native, but I could relate to the nickname. His healthy handshake and gruff, weather-beaten appearance gave it all away. We were to become very good friends.

Bear and I started talking, about fishing of course, and he told me about his fledgling kayaking tour and angling business. He said he had knocked out two Newfoundlanders recently.

Anyway, you know don’t you? The next morning, I went kayaking with Bear. I thought maybe I could write a few articles and find him business in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as elsewhere. At the time, I was doing a lot of work for American Angler.

I’ll keep the Florida part of this short for now because I’ve written about these adventures before and will do so again. Suffice it to say now that I had a wonderful angling experience and was quickly hooked.

I wasn’t sure, and neither was Bear, how the worlds of fly fishing and kayak fishing were going to blend together. There was not then and still is not much written on the subject. There is tons of casting and bait fishing.

You can venture into very remote fishing holes off the beaten path with a kayak.  Photo contributed - Contributed
You can venture into very remote fishing holes off the beaten path with a kayak. Photo contributed – Contributed

In fact, kayak angling in general is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It’s absolutely huge in Florida.

So what’s the problem ? Well, for one thing, you can paddle a kayak just about anywhere. This includes shallow waters, gullies, bays, rivers, etc.

This is also true for a canoe, but wait. At least to me, fly fishing in any craft under 50 feet is a solo affair. So I always paddle my canoe solo for fly fishing.

I’m a seasoned solo paddler so it’s not really an issue except that the typical 16ft canoe drifts badly in the wind while you fish. I usually use a small anchor but the canoe still wanders chaotically.

With a fishing-specific 12-foot kayak, you have multiple outrigger keels under you, and given the shorter windage length, you drift and swing a lot less. Drifting slowly along a shore and casting flies is bad technique. You can cover lots of water and catch lots of fish. Install a rudder and you can control the drift even better.

I love it.

Convenience is key with many trout. If I’m going to get some trout after supper, I need a minimum of hassle. A 12ft kayak can just be thrown in the back of my van and off I go.


I’m a seasoned solo paddler so it’s not really an issue except that the typical 16ft canoe drifts badly in the wind while you fish. I usually use a small anchor but the canoe still wanders chaotically.


A 16-foot canoe is much more complicated, whether you’re driving a pickup truck or otherwise. I have to load my canoe onto my truck. It’s just not as convenient.

That said, there may be a 12 or 13 foot solo canoe in my future, one with a keel and less rocker to be more suitable for solo fishing. But I will not pour living water into it.

It is impossible to have everything with one boat.

When I say fishing kayak, I mean a sit-on-top style boat that has some degree of rigging for anglers. I’m talking about rod holders, storage locations, anchor systems, etc.

Or you can just buy a recreational sit-on-top for a lower price and make your own rig. You can buy all that aftermarket stuff. You can even get specific holders for fly rods. Scotty is a great brand. I’ll tell you more about the rigging later.

I will end with this. Buy the kayak with the best seat you can afford. A comfortable butt makes a kayak angler happy.

Unless you plan to fish standing up, and that, good reader, is a discussion for another day.


Spaniard’s Bay native Paul Smith fishes and hikes outdoors at every opportunity. He can be contacted at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @flyfishtherock.

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